I read this week that there was another violent gang rape of a teen-aged girl in India. This kind of violent crime against girls and women is all too commonplace in that part of the world. And just as I am ready to throw judgment against them, I am reminded of our own issues when it comes to dealing with women. The “me too” movement began with accusations against an important Hollywood producer. One brave woman spoke out who was then followed by many others.
The floodgates seemed to open after this. Popular television personalities were fired from their jobs because of how they treated multiple women in their workplace. Then we heard the horrifying story of scores of young female gymnasts who were systematically abused over a period of years. Again, it took one brave young woman to step forward to speak.
This same kind of story has also made it into some very high-profile churches in which a pastor has abused a relationship with a parishioner. And there are countless other stories in corporate boardrooms where a “what happens on the road stays on the road” mentality is common.
The church needs to own up to something else--our Bible also has a “me too” problem. As you glide through the pages of Genesis, you will eventually come to a section with a heading that reads “The Rape of Dinah”. Dinah was the daughter of Leah, Jacob’s first wife. We are told a prince of the region “saw her, seized her, and lay with her by force.” Interestingly, the rest of the chapter is devoted to the revenge carried out by Dinah’s brothers--by bartering her off to this very prince so that they might gain an edge to attack the prince’s forces. We never hear from Dinah, herself.
Later we are introduced to Tamar, daughter of King David, whose half brother concocts a scheme for her to be raped. When David hears of it he is angry, but because he loved the half brother he didn’t punish him. Not surprising I guess since David had his own issues with taking women by force as we recall the story of Bathsheba. David has her husband sent to the front line of the war where he would certainly be killed so that David might have Bathsheba. Her husband is killed and she sleeps with David. We learn of no reaction from Bathsheba about her husband.
There is a truly remarkable story in Judges where a Levite pushes his concubine out of the house to be gang-raped by a lawless mob. By the morning, she is dead and the Levite responds by mutilating her body.
And let’s not forget the Father of the Faith, Abraham, who passed his own wife off as his sister so that the Pharoah wouldn’t harm him. The Pharoah took her--unbeknownst to him that she was Abraham’s wife. It is surely one of the most ironic moments in all of scripture when the godless Pharoah of Egypt discovers the lie and gives Abraham an ethics lesson.
We must all come to the realization that abuse takes place when one person fails to see the humanity of another. It is a unique kind of spiritual disease--a kind of narcissism that allows the perpetrator to focus only on what HE needs (I am sure there are women who also have been perpetrators, but it is undeniable that the vast majority are men) and blind to the pain of his victim.
If I were preaching the story of Dinah, I might ask, “how do you suppose Dinah felt?” This is a question many men never ask.
This is a problem that has existed through the ages. I don’t know that I have a solution, but I DO have a suggestion--start now by teaching our young boys how to be respectful of girls. Step up and shut down the crude jokes and innuendos that are lobbed at girls and women. If you hear something, say something.